Water use in a changing world

Estimating future economic and domestic water use is difficult due to uncertain changes in climate and socioeconomic conditions. Now, research estimates future water use in the United States could decrease or more than double by 2070 under plausible socioeconomic and climate scenarios.

Between 1980 and 2015, the United States added more than 82 million people (34% increase), generated 1,786 billion kWh more electricity annually (78% increase), and irrigated 2.4 million more hectares of cropland each year (10% increase). Yet, surprisingly, during this same period, total annual water withdrawals decreased by nearly 150 billion m3 (25% reduction)1,2. Given the importance of water in meeting our basic needs and supporting economic activity, long-term forecasts of societal water use are required to ensure that enough water is available to meet future water needs. However, uncertainties in future climate and socioeconomic conditions make it difficult to predict future water use. Recent research reported in Earth’s Future by Warziniack and colleagues3 introduces a novel approach to project freshwater use in the United Sates through 2070. They find that water consumption could decrease by as much as 8% or increase up to 235% under different socioeconomic and climate scenarios.

Source: Resources -

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